How Long Do You Have to Claim After a Car Accident?

Imagine you’re driving home from work, and another car hits you. It doesn’t seem like a very bad accident, but your car is damaged, and your back and neck are starting to ache. What do you do?

Most people would say, call the police, go to the hospital, and then call the insurance companies. While they would be correct, they would be missing one key step: call a lawyer. It’s important to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident to see if you might be eligible for additional compensation, and it’s vital to do so sooner rather than later.

Louisiana has laws and requirements for reporting car accidents and filing personal injury claims. These laws are in place to protect citizens and their rights, but how much time do you have to claim after a car accident?

Statute of Limitations

Most states, including Louisiana, have laws in place that mandate that if you are going to file a lawsuit, you must do it within a certain amount of time. These laws are called statute of limitation laws. Though most states have them, they vary in length depending on location, and a few other variables.

Louisiana Statute of Limitations

The Louisiana Statute of Limitations Law is the same for car accidents and most personal injury cases. Louisiana Civil Code Article 3492 says, “Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.”

In other words, the Louisiana statute of limitations for filing car accident cases is one year. The clock starts on the day of the accident, be it a truck, car, motorcycle, or any other kind of vehicle crash. This statute of limitations applies to cases that are seeking compensation for all damages, including property damage, injury, and medical expenses.

Filing Outside the Time Frame

It is possible to try and file a car accident claim outside the legally allowed one-year timeframe. However, you can almost guarantee that the defendant will try and get the case thrown out because of the missed deadline.

In most cases, the defendant would be successful, and the court would grant the motion to dismiss, effectively ending your case and claim.

There are rare instances in which exceptions are made to extend the statute of limitations deadline, but it’s not wise to assume your case will be one of these. It’s always best to file inside the legal timeframe. If you’re unsure of what to do or think your case might be an exception, talk to your lawyer.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Many car accident victims wrongly assume that their case will be resolved purely through insurance claims and miss the deadline to file a personal injury claim in court. It’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit, just in case.

If you’re worried that you’re cutting it close to the deadline, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer right away.

Your Legal Obligation to Report

The state of Louisiana doesn’t just have legal timelines for filing car accident claims. Louisiana also has laws in place that make you legally obligated to report car accidents that meet certain criteria within certain timelines.

As stated in Louisiana Revised Statutes section 32-398, drivers must report any vehicle accident that:

  • results in injury to or death of any person, or
  • results in property damage above $500

That same law mandates that drivers must report accidents to the local police department or nearest sheriff’s office, “immediately, by the quickest means of communication “to avoid legal action.

This law also states that drivers involved in accidents that cause a death or damage of $1000 or more must send in a written report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours after the crash. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $100, 60 days of jail time, or sometimes both.

Timing is Everything

It’s vital to be aware of these important laws regarding reporting and filing claims for car accidents. If you’re unsure about them or have questions regarding your exact situation, a Lafayette personal injury lawyer like Bart Bernard can help.

Bart Bernard is one of the top personal injury lawyers in the area. With years of legal experience, he and his team have the expertise needed to guide you effectively through your car accident case. Call Bart Bernard, a top Lafayette car accident attorney, to schedule your free initial consultation.